Birling the Skatepark Effect
Wesley Lee, Drop down to 50-50. Cayer By Adam Wawrzynczak There was once a time when skateparks acted primarily as warm-up spots....
If you’re a skateboarder who has grown up with a local skateshop, you know how crucial they are to the scene. Skater-owned shops by definition serve the skaters around them, which is why it’s always amazing to see a new one open up. Bliss is an independent skateshop in Windsor, ON, that has just recently opened its doors, so I decided to catch up with the owner, Sasha Senior. —Timothy Hines
When and why did you start Bliss Skateboard Shop?
Bliss officially opened its doors in March 2020—right when there were advisories for people to stay home. I had the space since November and the idea to open a shop in late September 2019. Everything happened so quickly. The first location I looked at was the spot we have now and it’s perfect. I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. I opened Bliss for the skateboarding community here in Windsor. We needed a local skateshop, and now we have one. Bliss is really servicing all the areas from Windsor to London. We’ve already had guests drive from Chatham, Leamington, Belle River, etc., to check out the shop and buy something. Since the opening we’ve had a lot of support all over the world really.
Do you look for anything when deciding what brands to carry?
I look for credibility with that brand, and how well that brand is known. Also, what message that brand is saying is also important. I don’t like negativity or bad vibes and I don’t want that in the shop. We have to old school brands like Powell, Santa Cruz, Indy, Spitfire, etc., as they’ve been brands that have paved the way for skateboarding. They’re still popular to this day, so that speaks volumes. Nonetheless it also comes down to the demand of the skate community. I believe every city has those set brands that they like. I’m still trying to figure that out for Windsor. Many industries, including skateboarding, are in a drought right now, so I’ve just been trying to get my hands on anything just so I can keep the skaters skating.
How has the recent pandemic affected how you do business?
The day after our grand opening we immediately pushed sales to online with curb-side pick-up and free local delivery with purchases of $100 or more. The community supported that. It was interesting doing phone orders. It was like ordering a pizza but for skateboarding. Once we opened our doors we gradually became busier. We’ve gotten so busy that we almost sold out of decks. I’ve already had days where I’d get an item in and the next day it’s sold out. My theory is that due to the pandemic there are less people producing products and working, so it’s taken longer for use to get products. Suppliers have also limited the amount of items one shop can order at a time. It’s been bitter-sweet. Bitter because I don’t have the products that I want to sell but sweet because people have been coming through to support the shop.
I’ve already noticed your early involvement but how you plan to stay connected with the local skate community? Do you think this is part of the role of a skateshop owner?
Being in the community is the biggest and most important part of having a skateshop. If you’re not supporting the community and looking out for the community then the community won’t support the shop. I will continue to be a part of the community by having a chill welcoming vibe in the shop as well as hosting events, and eventually free lessons sponsored by the shop. The shop is young, yet so much has happened in such a short while, but I look forward to more positivity.
Many skate shops end up closing their doors. What can brands and skaters do to support independent skateshops?
Skateboarders from the local community can help by volunteering when we have an event, whether that’s their time, or making a donation, and also keep supporting the shop. Thats a big thing with most skateboarders, right? #supportyourLOCALskateshop. If brands want to help, they can do so by sending promo items and even sponsoring events.
What do you love most about the skateboarding scene in Windsor?
The thing I love most so far about the Windsor Skateboard scene is the appreciation from the skaters. A lot of skateboarders in Windsor, if not all, have shown so much love and appreciation for the shop and the most recent event that we’ve hosted. I love that. I love the love. It’s good. I know I’ll be able to keep making a difference in Windsor with the shop as a platform.
What’s next for you and your store?
The next move for Bliss is to make our lane and keep paving it to a high level of success. We want to find what works best for Bliss, whether it’s a certain style, hospitality, giving to the community, supporting skateboarding around the world, who knows. I really want Bliss to be known around the world. I want to be able to donate to skateboarding communities that are not able to get skateboard products as easily, places like the Caribbean and countries in Africa. All over really. Anywhere that there is a skateboarder that cannot get the product I want to be able to get products to them.